The Carolina Hurricanes will finish off a short two-game homestand Saturday night in PNC Arena, as the Canes will host the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second game of a four-game stretch against them.
The Canes lost the opening game against the Blue Jackets Thursday night at home, securing a point thanks to two goals from Sebastian Aho before eventually falling in overtime.
Carolina captain Jordan Staal, forward Warren Foegele and head coach Rod Brind’Amour spoke with media members via Zoom Saturday following the Canes’ morning skate. Here is what they had to say:
On Andrei Svechnikov being back on the ice taking shots an hour after Thursday’s loss and on what that says about him as a player: It actually shows that he’s a little bit frustrated, which is expected. He wants to score, and he hasn’t scored that much. He does that all the time. That’s not new. We have a shooting area under the rink, and he’s usually doing that indoors after the game. It’s just his normal routine, to be quite honest. I know he’s pressing a little bit. It’d be nice for him to get one and ease the burden a little bit because I know he puts a lot of pressure on himself to score.
On what he can say to Svechnikov as a coach during this slump: I can relate to that. I haven’t brought that up to him yet, but I will. I’m going to talk to him a little today about just trying to enjoy it. Try to take the pressure off. He doesn’t have to score to play well. That’s a bonus. We want him to score. We obviously need him to score, but that doesn’t necessarily gage if he’s playing well or not. Just try to free him up a little bit.
He’s going to put pressure on himself regardless. It doesn’t really matter what you say. I’ve been around him long enough now to know, had enough conversations. He wants to excel. It’s just about trying to ease his mind and go have some fun and let the chips fall as they may. He will score. He’s had a bunch of opportunities. Detroit, when we were up there, he had two that went off the goalie’s knob. That’s by the goalie, it just happens to not go in. I’m not too concerned about that.
On where the team is at in terms of strengths and weaknesses just past the midway point: I know we can be better, and I think that’s a positive. I know we can be a lot better. There’s a whole other level that we’re gonna need to get to. I do like the fact that this is a hard-working group. They come to play. Even when we’re not at our best, we find a way to get to it. There’s no quit in this group. That’s all positive stuff.
I would love to see us be able to play the game we have to play all the time. It’s hard to do. We get off track a little bit here and there, but that’s normal. Every team does. We’ve fought through a lot. We have a lot of guys out. We’ve had some injuries and sicknesses and all that, and I think the guys have stuck to what they have to do for the most part.
On how big of a loss it has been to not have Vincent Trocheck and on what kind of ripple effect that has had: It’s huge. You lose him and [Teuvo] Teravainen at the same time for a long period. That’s a big hole right there. There’s no way around. Two of your top guys out up front, that’s tough to replace. It definitely effects us in all aspects. Every team has injuries and things like that. When you have the long ones, that’s when you kind of really notice him being out. You can get by a few games here and there, but it does definitely take an effect on your team when they’re out this long.
On the status of Vincent Trocheck and Teuvo Teravainen: They’re not soon, so I can’t even tell you. I’d love to be able to say ‘oh, they’re a week away.’ Teravainen is a little bit different. It’s that head stuff. Maybe he wakes up and feels good and we get him going, but it just really hasn’t happened yet. There’s really nothing soon on those guys.
On general manager Don Waddell, who will be serving as an NHL GM for his 1,000th game Saturday night: I’m glad you mention that because I did not know that. He’s been good because he’s easy to talk to. I think there’s good communication that way. He doesn’t seem like he’s the boss. He is, but it doesn’t feel that way. It feels like he’s one of us, so to speak. I think that’s been real positive around here. He’s been really great. One thousand games, that’s a big deal.
On if he has a favorite Waddell moment: The mock turtlenecks that he’s bringing back, that’s good. He has all those from the ‘80s and he brought them back. That’s interesting. No, there’s no real good stories I could tell you. He’s very sarcastic. I don’t know if people know that. He jokes all the time, tries to be funny. I guess that’s the best way to put it.
On Don Waddell: He’s been great. Obviously he’s been in the league a long time. He’s probably watched a lot of hockey, not just Canes hockey. He’s been a great leader in our room. He’s done a lot of hard work to get this group where it should be and where it needs to be. He’s a big part of our success so far this season.
On Andrei Svechnikov taking shots on the ice following Thursday’s loss and on what that says about him: It says I better set him up tonight. He’s a guy that won’t quit. He’s always going to push himself to be the best. That’s what you want in your best players. Obviously he’s going through a bit of a funk right now, and that’s on me and [Jesper Fast] as well to get our line going. I think we can be a lot better. [Svechnikov], he’s getting a lot of chances. It’s not like he’s not. They’re gonna go in eventually for him, and sooner rather than later would be best for everybody.
On what the Canes need to improve on as a whole after Thursday’s loss: We talked about our start. It wasn’t good enough. I thought my line wasn’t good enough. We’ve got to get better. In general, once we got going and got our legs going and got into the game, it was a good game. It’s gonna be a really tight game against that team. They’re always on top of you, like we want to do. There’s usually not a lot of room and all that fun stuff. It’s gonna be another tight one, I’m sure. But we’ll hopefully open it up as best we can and find ways to get the puck in the net.
On if he tries to talk to Svechnikov about his slump as the captain: I mean there’s no question any player in the league has gone through times where the puck doesn’t go in. Like I said before, it’s not like he isn’t getting chances, not like he’s not working hard. He’s gonna do those things, and he’s gonna get chances every night. They’re gonna go in. I’m not worried about him. He understands what it takes. He gets it. Squeezing the stick a little less would be best. I know it’s easier said than done, but he’ll be just fine.
On if the Canes know a little more about Columbus and its tendencies compared to the rest of the teams in the division: Yeah, for sure. We know what they’re about. They like to try to keep it simple. They’re hard working. They try not to create enough space out there. For us it’s just about trying to play the full 60, and about trying not to give them space as well.
On the pluses and minuses of playing the same team four games in a row: I think you just treat it like any other game. I think for the pluses, it’s nice to play the same team to try to find their weaknesses each game and make adjustments to try to capitalize on that. Minuses, I don’t know if there is any minuses. Just that maybe sometimes it’s annoying playing the same team so many times, but that’s the year we have right now. I wouldn’t really say it’s a minus. It’s always fun to go out there, and it’s a privilege to play every day in the National.
On what the teams greatest strength is just past the halfway point of the season: I think our greatest strength is our work ethic. We’ve always taken pride in working hard. We’ve got a lot of talent on this team, but it’s those talented guys that are working hard. Everyone on the team is contributing in a way to make the team successful.
On if the team takes a ‘playoff mentality’ with these regular season series: Yeah, for sure. Every point matters because we’re all in the same division. We need to win every game and not give points to the other teams that are not in our division. From that point it is like a playoff series. You’re just trying to keep taking it day by day and winning those games.
On Joonas Korpisalo’s save against him Thursday: Yeah, I did rewatch it. He’s a good goalie. He’s made that save, I don’t know, that’s his fourth time in the last two weeks making that exact save. You put it away, and now you focus on the next game and you hopefully try to get one on him the next time.